At the time of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Chippenham Mead, still defined by the medieval burgage plots, was an area of 47,559 acres.

Parts of these plots were conveyed to the Borough Corporation by complicated Indentures, involving a mortgage for the Duke of Beaufort in the name of his son, the Marquis of Worcester, his Marchioness, the Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty, worthy ‘benefactors’, and later Lord Llangattock who chipped in his plots.

‘Little Chippenham’ was added by Miss Partridge to be a cricket ground, becoming first the cattle market and now the council car park. This, and dissection by the A449 trunk road, reduced its area by over seven acres, without any compensation.

Once defined as an open space, it is marked as recreation ground on OS maps until 1991. In 1987 a Scheme of Regulation was implemented by the District Council - and then Waitrose arrived.

It would be unhealthy to regurgitate the sorry mis-management of Chippenham; the public enquiries, the intervention of two Secretaries of State with the help of our MP, the opinion of the Crown Prosecution Service (consulted by the Chief Constable), the Ombudsman’s “prima facie evidence of maladministration”, and the greed of Waitrose which destroyed the medieval entrance to the town. It is all in council records.

One of the few assets left since the abolition of the borough, the shameful sale of any part of it for a private car park resulted in the police station remaining in its inaccessible corner and the loss of the Rolls Hall to the county library.

Most is registered town green and Grade 2 Historic Park so any interference with the soil of Chippenham by new mothers and inexperienced mayors is illegal - they are skating on thin ice, once possible when it flooded in winter.

The litter-picking ‘Friends of Chippenham’ should remember that toddlers, like councillors and Leaders of the British Empire Party (as also the Empire), hold transient power. Will they soon complain that their teenagers, denied the present playground to congregate in, deserve more? How many skateboard parks have we financed already?

Kirstie Buckland